This site is 100% ad supported. Please add an exception to adblock for this site.

Political Thought


undefined, object
copy deck
refers to the historical context, or historical situation, of ideas, beliefs and cultures. a sens of history is essential to an adequate grasp of politics
or the Age of Reason, refers to the rationalist intellectual movmenets of seventeenth and eigteenth century Europe. Forms an essentail component of the hisotry of modern and contemporary political thought.
tends to be used as a synonym of Enlightenment but has borader terms of reference can incorporate anti-rationalist thorught and polticical movements.
The Social Contract
the basic premises of political society explained in terms of a contract between citizens or between citizens and their rulers.
The State of Nature
The condition of human beings prior to politics. More often a conceptual abstratction rather than a historical description, this device seeks to explain the basic reasons for politics.
Deontological (morality)
Deontological moral arguments claim that moral principles are right in themselves rather than for any benefit they may bring.
Consequentialist/instrumentalists (morality)
moral arguments that claim that moral principles are good only in reference to their consequences. Thus morality has only instrumental value.
The justification of a state\'s authority is usually expressed as it\'s legitimacy. In Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau the legitimacy of political power is explained by its origin in the articles of the social contract.
an obligation is a moral duty to act or refrain from acting. the extent and limit of our obligation to a political authority is determined by its legitimacy.
Limited Government
can be limited either by its moral duty to uphold the moral law or by a constitiutaional arragenement of checks and balances that serve to effectively liit the functions of the branches of government. Locke\'s Second Treatise advocates both limitations.
Absolute Government
denies the moral or practical case for limiting political authority. In Hobbes\'s political stability is found in the granting of absolute sovereignty to one man or assembly of men; nothing else can end the war of all against all.
Popular Sovereighty
Refers to the idea that sovereignty resides in the populace (the people). Both Locke and Rousseau argue that sovereignty remains with the people but the idea is captured more completely in Rousseaus\' claim that where the poele are assembled the athority of the governmet ceases.
Equality is one of those values that has to be qualified in terms of equality of wealth, political power, opporutnity, etc.
Alienation theory
We give up our freedom, our sovereighty to establish poltitical authority. (Jean Hampton\'s description of Hobbes\'s social-contract theory).
Agency theory
(Jean Hampton\'s descritipno f Locke\'s social contract theory - idea that we entrust (rather than give up) our freedom to establish political authority.
The stage of human history where the means of porduction are in the hands of private individuals and class relations are dominated by the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
On eof th etwo principal classes in the capitalist mode of production. They are the owners f the emasn of production, a position they use to exploit the proletariat.
The other major class within the capitalist mode of production. Commonly referred to as the workign class, this class owns no property and so is forced to sell it\'s labor to survive.
The fundamental unit of Marxist analysis. A person\'s class are determined by their relations to the means of production.
Historical materialism
an evolutionary understanding of human society. The driving forces of this process are understood not toe be ideas or theories but economic structures.
In Marxist theory the state is the institution by which the power of one class is organised for the oppression of another.
The extraction of surplus value from the subordinate class in an economic relation. This is an inevitable part of the capitalist mode of production.
a process whereby human creative labour becomes external to humans and appears to dominate and oppress them.
the idea that the state is necessarily illegitimate and that human flourishing would be better served without governmental authority.
Literally those things that are of use to human beings. In utilitariaism it usually refers to pleasure, happiness or preference satisfaction.
The view that all actions can be considered right or wrong by reference to eh value of their consequencens
The Good as prior to the Right
The idea that principles of justice are dientied by refeerence to a general account f the good or the good life for human beings.
Act Utilitarianism
The political theory that claims that each and every act msut be assessed in terms of its consequences for the maximisation of utility.
Rule utilitarinism
Utility maximisation is better served by the institution of general rules of conduct that constrain individual action, themselves justified by reference to utility.
Constraints on conduct that are based on an understanding that there are ways of treating a person that can never be justified and are therefore always unjust.
The Right as prior to the Good
The claim that right principles of justice can be identifed independently of any conception of the good life. This claim is generally part of a deontological view.
moral conduct is justified without reference to its consequences, either in terms of the satisfaction of individual interest or of the realisation of a greater good.
Generally the claim that the world is knowable only through reason and that reason therefore has a critical role to play in assessing claims to justifiction.
Attitude to change, don\'t think things can remain static, accept chang eis a reality, but have caution in innovation. Be guided by the practices of the past, don\'t create a rift from the past. Reform is a way to avoid revolution. Tradition is a society\'s memory.
Non-rational approach to politics
belive that you cannot work out the priciples of government through abstract reasoning. Most of life is not led intellectually.
no such thing as perfect societies, because the building blocks, people, will always be imperfect
history is progressive and linear, the past is left in the past and we\'re moving forward
Cause VS. Reason
Reason implies choice, cause is the thing that had to be the way they are
something created out of nothing. Theological
concerned with the obligations of the individual to the community in which the individual resides
the rising class challenges the upper class. It will do so by havin it\'s false conciousness crashed, and this will happen either through eduation of the alternatives or by economic crisis.
marked by the state taking over the economy, from each according to his capacity, to each according to his work. Phase gives way to communism.
the whithering away of the state, there will be no need for the state, and the government of people will give way tot he administration of things. From each according to his capacity, to each according to his needs.
Edmund Burke, opponent of the Tory party (the conservatives).
\"A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.\"
Burke, when he ran for reelection, reps should have good judgement that may not always line up with the public opinion.
\"owes you not his industry only, but his judgement, which he betrays you if he sacrifices that for your opinion.\"
\"If we want things to remain the same, things are going to have to change.\"
Jeremy Bentham, experience is taken as the source of all knowledge, everything we do is determined by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
\"Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two masters: pain and pleasure.\"
Jeremy Bentham, in persuit of utility, happiness is the highest level of utility to reach for.
\"The greatest happiness of the greatest number\"
Jeremy Bentham
You can measure happiness and unhappiness by Intensity, Duration, Proximity, and Fecundity.
John Stuart Mill, disussing utilitarianism
\"I now had options... in one of the best senses of the word, I had found my religion.\"
Bentham, in a 1838 essay that attacks cold rationaism of Utilitarianism
True fulfillment comes from the arts, music and literature adn teh exposure to non-rational philosophies. The pleasure of the uncertanty of exploring philosophical thought. Pleauser of philosophical contemplation and inquring are more important to development in life than the rigidity of Util.
Bentahm, in response to Socrates \"the only thing I know is, that I in fact know nothing.\"
\"Rather be a disocntented Socartes than a well fed pig\"
Bentham, in On Liberty
\"What is threatening to liberty?\" - all social reformers
Bentham, The Subjection of Women
Everyone should be given the vote, but there should be unequal distribution of votes.
Mill, in Simple Principle
\"do what you want as long as it does not compromise another\'s liberty.\"
The bridge example, apply simple principle
Karl Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, capitalism is unsustainable because of it\'s internal contradictions
\"the history of all hither to existing societ is the history of class struggle.\"
Machiavelli, on the chruch, from Discourses on Livy
\"We italians the owe to the Church of Rome and to her priests our having become irreligious and bad; but we owe her a still greater debt, and one that will be the cause of our ruin, namely, that the Church has kept and still keeps our country divided. And certainly a country can never be united and happy, except when it obey wholly one government, whether a republic or a monarcy, as is the case in France and in Spain; and the sole cause of why Italy is not in the same condition, and it\'s not governed by either one republic or one sovereign, is the Church.\"
Machiavelli, in the Prince, on punishmenst and rewards
\"Yet it cannot be called prowess to kill fellow citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, irreligious. these ways can win a prince power but not glory.\"
Machiavelli, in The Prince, on ethics and the use of power
\"...a man who neglects what is actually done for what shoudl be done learns the way to self-destruction rather than self-preservation. The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous. Therefore, if a prince wants to maintain his rule he must learn how not to be virtuous, and to make sue of this or that according to need.\"
Machiavelli, the Prince, on Political ruthlessness
People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not ahve to fear their vengeance.\"
Machiavelli, the prince, on fortune:
In think it may be true that fortune determines one half of our actions, but that, even so , she leaves us to control the other half, or thereabouts.
Rousseau, The Social Contract, the lawgiver will guide people to the general will
\"Man must be forced to be free.\"
Hobbes, about his mother recieving the news that the Spanish Amarta was on its way and it induced an early birth from fear
\"I was born in fear\"
Materialsim - in Hobbes
the view that everything is made of matter, and nothing non-material exists
Rationalism - in Hobbes
tells us how to avoid the bad, hot to maximize pleasure,
Rational Skepticism/Solipicism
the belif that your existence is the only thing you can know with certainty. Your senses are always letting you down, so you noly cvan know you, everything else may not be.
fundamental view on human nature that says we are all egotistical, we are all the center of our own worlds, we act only for our own interests, deeply competitie
Totalitarianism (Rousseau was an early advocate)
tenticles of the state extend into every aspect of civil society and private life. Tries to bring as much societal activity under the government as you can.
Noble Savage, Primitivism (Rousseau)
primitivism, they are living the good life, developed societies are crazy and wild. What we call progress is actually decivilization
Rousseau, in The Discourses on the Origin of Inequality
The amn who mdeiates is a depraved animal
Rousseau, in The Social Contract, doesn\'t think we can go back to being noble savages
\"What do we do with human kind now that we\'re no longer in our original state?\"
The General Will (Rousseau)
what happens when everybody at the same time acts in accordance with positive freedom
Social Darwinism/ Spencerism
Idea that you can use Darwin\'s ideas on natural selection to explain human socity - survival of the fittest
Peter Krpotkin, in Mutual Aid, accepts the essentials of Darwin, but says that he has misobserved nature
you will see that along side the competition for survival there is a huge amount of natural cooperation
say they are not acting on political ideoology, they are jsut scientists, and thought there may be poltiical implications of what they find, that\'s not their job
imputing human motives to animals. saying a cat is trying to annoy you or somehting. imagining human motives in animals.
school of thought in the biological sciences, no political intent, theory of natural selection.
Libertarian Right
left wing response to the social darwinism movement
doing things for other people. mutual aid
Cartisian Doubt
Premptive strike - we can\'t tell what others are thinking so we have to act preemptively.
a persons obligation to their community
The Simple Principle
The state only has control in other regarding actions, not individual actions, so it\'s ok for you to kill yourself but not to kill others
Tabla Rosa
We are all blank sheets, we gain through experience
Possitive Freedom
Freedom to choose what\'s good for you and you want
world view
Paradym shift
moving from one paradym to another because the past one no longer holds true
Rational economic man, people try to further their own self interest, we\'ere selfish
an organic view of social instution, society as an organism
refers to when a period begins and ends
everything revolves roudn the earth
everything revolves around the sun
everything revolves around people
breeding stronger - sterilization is okay
Prejudice against other species - Peter Singer idea
someone with reason adn the ability to pursue preferences (so babies are not in personhood)
Skill, the ability to handle fortuna
The Yoke of Opinion
Mills term, used for the pressure of conformity
Catastrophies wiped out everything in dinosaur time, and they\'re continue to do so.
Immunitability Thesis
nothing ever changes unless something makes it change. Which never happens. So nothing ever changes.
Absolute Monarchy
absolute rule by the king and queen, often divine rule

Deck Info